May 11, 2023 | Caregiver, Elder Care

By Elaina Thomakos, Care Communication Liaison

This Mother’s Day, take time to check in with the mothers in your life or take some time to focus on yourself if you are a mother. Mothers are caregivers to so many in their lives, and as people are living to an older age, they often become caregivers to their aging parents. Caring for both children and their parents creates a unique generation of people, called the Sandwich Generation.

What is the Sandwich Generation?

The Sandwich Generation is the group of people that are “sandwiched” between caring for their elderly parents, as well as their growing or adult children. These additional familial obligations on top of normal stressors, such as working, can result in increased levels of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. This population tends to be in their 40s or 50s and are primarily women. Taking on additional caregiving responsibilities can make it difficult to achieve a work/life balance, and to maintain other relationships outside of caregiving.

Sandwich caregivers often feel like they are being spread too thin and being pulled in opposite directions. The various people that they care for have constant needs that must be addressed, and unfortunately, it is normal for these needs to compete for the caregiver’s time and support. Knowing how much others rely on them and making difficult decisions about who to prioritize can weigh heavily on a caregiver’s mind.

The time-consuming nature of caregiving can harm your personal and professional life. Many family caregivers put their careers on hold or even leave their jobs to have more time to dedicate to caregiving. The countless hours spent helping others can take an emotional toll, leading to feelings of role confusion and identity loss. Some caregivers choose to juggle both caregiving and their career. This leaves little time for life outside of work hours, and it is easy for these caregivers to feel overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, frustrated, and under-appreciated.

How to Reduce Stress as a Sandwich Caregiver

Caregivers often feel reluctant to ask for help, whether it is from professionals or other family members. It can be hard to get past the idea that asking for help would be a burden on others, but one person doesn’t need to shoulder the stress alone. If you’re a sandwich caregiver, use Mother’s Day to celebrate yourself.  Step away and consider the gift of respite!  

There are various resources that sandwich caregivers can utilize to reduce stress and aid them in caring for their loved ones. Caregiver support groups are available both in-person and online and are comprised of people all going through similar situations. These groups provide the opportunity to talk about the struggles of caregiving with an audience that understands because they are going through the same things. People in support groups can assist with recommendations for best practices for caregiving, suggest new resources to research, or just be an outlet to voice frustration and stress.

Sandwich caregivers can also access the aid of professionals that have experience caring for aging loved ones. Professionals such as social workers and care managers can assist with creating care plans and determining the best path for each situation. They can connect caregivers to resources that will help to cut down on their long list of responsibilities. These resources can include home care, adult daycare centers, and home health services. To be prepared for the future, these professionals can also provide information about long-term solutions, such as assisted living facilities and memory care facilities. It may be difficult to think about these options if the aging person isn’t quite ready for them, but thinking ahead can be crucial to avoid getting caught off guard when they are suddenly in need of these services.

If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.

About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 / 215-896-6756 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).